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Biographies leave their mark. As does the passage of time. Thomas Heise examined how one related to the other in HEIMAT IST EIN RAUM AUS ZEIT (2019), using the story of his family over four generations to tell nothing less than the story of 20th-century Germany.
"I don't think I've ever been so personal," he wrote in an email. This great film, which will now become his legacy, formed the backbone of the Berlinale Forum's selection in 2019, and the audience debate after its premiere at the Delphi cinema was also an event. Heise had been a frequent guest at the Forum even before that, first with EISENZEIT (1992), then with the much-discussed STAU - JETZT GEHT'S LOS (1993), which approached the topic of neo-Nazis in Halle in an inimitably intelligent way, and its follow-up project NEUSTADT / STAU - DER STAND DER DINGE (2000). MY BROTHER. WE'LL MEET AGAIN, which also premiered at the Forum in 2005 and, like some of his other works, is distributed by Arsenal, was streamed on the online platform arsenal 3 during the pandemic. Heise talked about it with the audience in a post-screening online debate.
The fact that MATERIAL (2009), a congenial montage of film material ranging from the GDR in the late 1980s to 2008, which shows German history as an archaeology of the possible, ends with elegiac tones, resonates when we think of Thomas now. As does the sentence: There is always something left over, a remainder that does not disappear.
Thomas Heise was a man with a backbone. His films will remain. But he will be missed. We are in mourning.

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